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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK


Smoking adverts: The reaction

The ban is specially designed to cut teenage smoking

Plans to ban tobacco advertising by the end of the year have provoked strong reactions from both sides of the smoking debate.

The ban was welcomed by Clive Bates, director of anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

[ image: Clive Bates says ban is a step forward]
Clive Bates says ban is a step forward
He said: "A ban on tobacco advertising in 1999 will meet a Labour manifesto commitment and ultimately save thousands of lives each year.

"The danger is that just as soon as they stop conventional advertising, the tobacco companies will side-step the ban and use things like clothing, motorbikes, holidays and clubs to push their brands.

"I hope the government will commit to block any loopholes with new legislation if it is needed."

Sir Richard Peto, of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, echoed Mr Bates' view that the ban would save a lot of lives.

He said: "The ban will help smokers quit and should help prevent children from starting smoking in the first place.

"Half of all smokers who continue to smoke will be killed by tobacco. If, say, 20,000 smokers stop as a result of the new regulations, there will be about 10,000 fewer deaths from tobacco."

Professor Gordon McVie of the Cancer Research Campaign said: "The tobacco industry has been pushing deaths and illness in our streets and shops, our newspapers and magazines and during our sporting events for long enough.

"I am certain these regulations, when they come into effect, will give our children and young people freedom from the subtle pressure to take up cigarettes and a real chance to avoid being victims of cruel and clever marketing."

Doctors warn of loopholes

[ image: Dr Ian Bogle warned tobacco companies would try to find loopholes]
Dr Ian Bogle warned tobacco companies would try to find loopholes
The British Medical Association (BMA) warned of the need to ensure tobacco manufacturers do not exploit loopholes in the regulations.

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of BMA Council, said: "Advertising is influential, particularly on image conscious young people who are enthusiastic buyers of designer labels and brands.

"Our great fear is that manufacturers will move their advertising from the billboard to the tee-shirt. Brand stretching must be prevented effectively, but we know that the tobacco manufacturers will use every possible trick to try to preserve it.

"The regulations must be carefully monitored and rigorously enforced - £5,000 fines in the magistrates court are a mere pinprick in the side of the corporate tobacco giants.

Dr Bogle said the BMA was also concerned about sports sponsorship and the possible three-year extension given to some sports to end their involvement with the tobacco industry.

He said: "Research has shown that young, male motor racing fans are highly aware of the cigarette brands shown on the race track and are more likely to be smokers."

Professor George Alberti, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the ban was a "major nail in the coffin of the tobacco industry".

"However, we must not be complacent about the intended effects of the ban. The tobacco industry is already looking at new ways of brand stretching and indirect advertising - hell will freeze over before it will stop targeting potential new smokers._

Political posturing

However, FOREST, the Freedom Organisation for the Right To Enjoy Smoking Tobacco, condemned the government's decision as "political posturing".

Director Simon Clark said: "The ban will deprive adult smokers of information about a legitimate consumer product.

"Worse, it will discourage manufacturers from developing new products, including a so-called safer cigarette, because they won't be able to market them."

Mr Clark denied that the ban will reduce the number of under age smokers.

"There is no evidence that children start smoking because of advertising.

"Children are encouraged by their peers and siblings. If anything, a ban on advertising will make smoking more attractive because it will encourage children to be rebellious."

The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association said the government was "totally misguided" and had acted with "blatant disregard" for the legal position in pushing ahead with the ban before the European Court had ruled on its legal validity.

David Swan, TBA chief executive, said: "This shows complete disregard for the practicalities involved and the impact on organisations affected.

"Tens of thousands of jobs are at risk in tobacco retailing, publishing, advertising and other marketing service companies."

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